General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt has been on the job a decade and his challenges are numerous, but what has been overlooked is his bet on cleantech and how it can mark the company’s next 10 years.
The Wall Street Journal handicaps Immelt’s first decade on the job. The picture is decidedly mixed. GE Capital is continually questioned over whether it should be part of the conglomerate. On the other hand, GE has expanded into emerging markets, shed NBC Universal and pulled off a series of acquisitions to fuel growth in the future.
Last week, GE wrapped up its $3.2 billion acquisition of Converteam, which is a play on wind and solar energy as well as an oil and gas equipment maker.
But the Converteam purchase was just the latest move into clean tech. The upshot for GE is that its energy business accounted for 19 percent of sales in 2001 and should be north of 30 percent in 2011. Here’s a look at a few of the GE moves over the last decade. To wit:
- GE bought Enron Wind from the bankrupt carcass of Enron in 2002.
- In 2004, GE acquired Astropower to enter the solar industry.
- US Ionics was added to GE via acquisition in 2005. That move bolstered GE’s water business.
- In 2007, GE introduced the VIO high-power white LED. Also in 2007, GE unveiled a hybrid locomotive.
- Virgin Atlantic used biofuel in 2008 to fly via GE airplane engines.
- In 2010, GE rolled out the energy smartLED bulb, which is designed to replace old incandescent bulbs. Also in 2010, GE unveiled the WattStation for charging electric vehicles. GE also formed a partnership with Silicon Valley to fund clean energy startups.
GE’s clean tech push really came together in the latter part of the decade. It remains to be seen if these clean tech bets fuel growth for the decades ahead, but Immelt hasn’t been shy about taking his shots. Immelt’s next decade at GE may be judged on how the company navigated a changing energy ecosystem.
- GE: Wind market hits rough patch, but rebound expected
- GE, NRG, ConocoPhillips invest in Israeli wastewater startup
- GE, VC firms invest $63 million in home energy tech; partner with Best Buy
- GE posts 2010 reductions in energy, emissions; misses on water
- GE’s power plant combo pack: wind, solar and natural gas
- Five questions for…Eric Gebhardt, CTO, GE Energy Services
- GE unveils power plant optimized for renewable energy
- GE’s Immelt: Green talk too ‘elitist’, ‘precious’ for public
- GE plans 400-megawatt solar panel manufacturing plant in U.S.
- GE’s bets: Clean tech, software and services
- GE partners with China on jet tech, high-speed rail, clean coal ventures
- GE acquires Lineage Power, eyes cloud, data center power systems
- GE’s next phase of Ecomagination Challenge: the home
- Immelt: In 2011, GE goes ‘back on offense’
- GE hits $6 billion target for renewable energy investments
- GE, Better Place team up on electric vehicle infrastructure
- GE’s Ecomagination Challenge: Crowdsourcing, time and paring eco-ideas
- GE to cleantech startups: We need your innovation, you need our scale
- The WattStation: GE’s new vehicle charging device
- GE CEO announces new smart-grid initiatives
- With Nucleus smart meter hub, GE targets home energy management
- GE’s Immelt aims to spark, scale clean tech’s ’slow fat rabbit’ ecosystem
- GE offers $200 million to crowdsource smart grid innovation; takes page from DARPA